Self-deception: why you shouldn’t trust yourself after all

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You can trust yourself completely and unquestionably, right? You know that no matter what, you have your own back. It’s others we have to be weary of; trust is only uncertain when it comes to our relationships with them.

Like a distortion mirror, self-deception allows you to see what you wish to see. Self-deception protects you from confronting personal conflicts, and from the often harrowing realizations that accompany self-development.

While this mechanism is designed to be ego-protective, it prevents you from taking full responsibility for your existence; and thus, it prevents you from making the changes you need to make in order to truly grow.

Below are the 3 major ways that self-deception manifests in your life.

1. The Busy BS

“Busy is a decision. We decide what we want to do based on what we think are the priorities in our lives. And if you don’t get to them, I suggest you look at how important they are to you. If you’re using  “busy” as an excuse… then [it’s] just not that important to you.” – Debbie Milman (Excerpt from the Tim Ferris Show)

Language is powerful. It affects the lens through which we see the world, and our lives. And so, if our language is not accurate, our vision will grow more and more distorted through time. If we claim “busyness”, what we really mean is that thing is not a priority.

By labelling your activities in terms of priorities versus the constraints of time, you can assess how well your life aligns with your values.

For instance, if you say you cannot eat healthy because you do not have time to cook, shift this in terms of priorities, and state: eating healthy is not a priority. That expression creates a visceral reaction, arousing emotions and internal objections – and that is the wall you will encounter when you engage in radical self-honesty. 

2. The Tomorrow Trickery 

“You think that you need to feel confident or courageous in order to get started. You don’t. You actually just have to start. And that’s the riddle of life… you actually have to learn to push yourself.” – Mel Robbins

You deceive yourself into thinking you have enough time. That tomorrow you’ll begin; that tomorrow you’ll be ready. When in reality, you will never be ready, you will only become better at self-deception; more adept at short-circuiting the growth-oriented mind.

3. The “Popularity is Protective” Trap  

“If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule – never lie to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho

Sheep flock together. If you have never seen Far from the Madding Crowd, you should know that they will also follow each other beyond the edge of a cliff, to their collective demise. If you want to avoid that gruesome fate, simply do not be a sheep.

This takes brutal self-honesty and outstanding courage; it can mean going against the grain and moving into uncharted territory.

Naturally, our ego likes comfort and familiarity, and will evade any attempts at deep self-inquiry, no matter the cost. But it begs the question: what price are you willing to pay to protect an ego whose goal is not happiness, but stagnation? It wants to keep you comfortable – but in this one life you are given, is it not your duty to live your life in accordance with the truth of who you are?



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